What it’s for
Each beat of your heart is triggered by an electrical impulse. This impulse starts in a node within your heart’s right atrium, and then travels during the rest of your heart. In some people, that electrical impulse starts traveling on the wrong pathway. This can reason heart rhythm problems like an arrhythmia, otherwise known as palpitations. An arrhythmia can often be treated with medications. Another method of treating an arrhythmia is a catheter ablation.
In a catheter ablation, an electro physiologist generates tiny scars in a few of the cells of your heart. These scarred cells make a “roadblock” for the electricity in your heart, forcing the impulses to travel on the right path.
Catheter ablations can commonly cure an arrhythmia totally, so patients no longer have any symptoms or need medications.
How it’s done
You first collect a medication through an IV to help you relax. A tiny incision is made in your groin area. Thin tubes called catheters are then inserted into this incision.
With the help of x-ray images, the catheters are threaded up to your heart. Your electro physiologist uses the catheters to identify the faulty electrical pathways that are causing your arrhythmia.
Electrodes on the end of the catheter are then used to generate small scars on the wall of your heart. These scars act as roadblocks to keep your heart’s electrical impulses traveling in the right direction.
Catheter ablations typically take from 3-6 hours, depending on difficulty. After your ablation process, you need to wait several hours in the recovery area.
Most patients who have ablation procedures go home the same day, while some patients need to stay overnight in the hospital.
Catheter ablations are considered a simply invasive procedure. Even so, there are several risks that patients should know about:
- Blood clots
- Worsened arrhythmia symptoms
- Bleeding from the incision site
- Puncture of the heart
- Damage to blood vessels by catheter